In this interview with indianexpress.com, the 55-year-old actor, singer, director and producer Shekhar Suman talks about how we live in an environment of fear and how the audience has become overly sensitive. He also talks about the possibility of iconic TV show Delhi Bhai Dekh making a comeback as a film.
We recently saw you in Bhoomi. How was it getting back together on screen with Sanjay Dutt after almost a decade?
Yes, we first worked together in a movie called Insaaf Apne Lahoo Se. We were brothers and it was a typical Bollywood film, directed by Manmohan Desai’s chief assistant. We had a great time. Then he went through a series of issues. However, now that we got together again, we had a great time. We were shooting in Agra and stayed in the same hotel. Every evening we would catch-up. Sanjay is immensely fond of music and I didn’t know that. He has recorded hundred songs which he has written. He has his friends who are singers, so he has scouted them out and recorded these songs. We had a good time there and he is also politically inclined so we have a lot of talks about politics. Sanjay has not changed. He talks the same way. He is the same old Dutt he always was.
Tell us about your film Pattharbaaz.
Pattharbaaz is a film on stone pelting that happened in Kashmir. We’ll start shooting once the script is ready. It is still being written and should be done very soon. Once the script is ready, I’ll leave for Kashmir for more research. The cast will be quite interesting. It’ll be a good mixture of theatre actors and some young actors from Kashmir. The message is straight. There is this poster boy of Kashmir who is asking for an independent Kashmir. They have a very romantic notion about their acts, so I am going to tell a story from their point of view, as well as from the other point of view. Because they are already in an independent India, so what independence are they talking about? And I strongly believe that violence doesn’t serve any purpose. This film is a sensitive one, and we are going to shoot it in English and in Hindi, because I want the global audience to see it. There is an interest. They want to know what happens in Kashmir.
You are also doing theatre and singing.
My play Ek Mulaqat with Deepti Naval is going on. I play the iconic Sahir Ludhianvi. It is an eternal love story with Amrita Pritam. We have done 180 shows, and next month we are performing in Singapore and Dubai. And my live singing concerts called Dil Se are basically filled with retro songs. I do it because it is my passion.
Apart from that my political satire show Pol Khol is going on, and it’ll go on till 2019 elections. I am then doing another play written by Sharad Joshi. It is called Waah Nawab Waah, directed by Aanand Mahendroo.
Any plan to bring back Movers and Shakers and Dekh Bhai Dekh?
I am actually preparing to bring Movers and Shakers back. This time on the web. Delhi Bhai Dekh might come back too and Aanand Mahendroo will direct it. We plan to make a film this time. The cast will remain the same, just grown up, unfortunately dadaji and Navin Nischol aren’t wish us.
Movers and Shekhars will be a web show as well as a live show. Aanand is coming with an entertainment hub, and it will have an amphitheater. So, we thought why not, let’s do this. Let’s have a show in front of a live audience.
You are an actor and you are making a film too. Today with the way artistes are threatened openly, don’t you think it affects art and creativity?
Yes, of course it does. You cannot survive and breathe in the atmosphere of fear, and where you can’t express your true self. And that is what has happened with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Without seeing the film, how can people react like this and slap the man? Forget the financial losses, there is a lot of blood and sweat that goes in making a film, this is like sabotaging a lot of hard work. For me, I am trying to make a very sensitive film and this makes me wary and apprehensive about it. I don’t know if I will be able to make this film or people will let me.
We were so progressive 23 years ago, what has happened today? I remember, 1997-98, I had started Movers and Shakers and I spoke about everything under the sun, and there was not a single uproar, people took it with a pinch of salt and had a great sense of humor. But today any group is coming and threatening creative people. Actors and other creative people need to have a sense of freedom. This is like curbing their democratic right.